"Original Child Bomb" is one of a small number of pieces written by Thomas Merton which he described as anti-poems. This unusual group includes "Chant to be Used in Processions around a Site with Furnaces" of which an audio interpretation can be accessed through the "Dante's Ghost" collection on Internet Archive.
These pieces are characterised by the conscious and ironic use of the debased but now-commonplace language that masks the horror of genocide.
In his essay "War and the Crisis of Language", Merton wrote: "Poets are perhaps the ones who, at the present moment, are most sensitive to the sickness of language - a sickness that, infecting all literature with nausea, prompts us not so much to declare war on conventional language as simply to pick up and examine closely a few chosen pieces of linguistic garbage."
"Original Child Bomb" was first published in his friend Robert Lax's magazine "Pax" in 1961, but was soon picked up by "New Directions" and re-published a year later in 1962, thereby reaching a far wider audience.
"Sentimental Journey" by Les Brown with Doris Day (1945)
"Hell, Fire and Damnation" by Jocelyn Pook
from "Untold Things" Real World Records, 2001
"Only the Devil Laughed" by Hildegard von Bingen
Performers: Catherine King, Emily Van Evera and Sister Germaine Fritz
from "Vision. The Music of Hildegard von Bingen" Angel Records, 1994
Vincent Di Stefano
"Original Child Bomb" was recorded and produced collaboratively by vincentd of Integral Reflections and chazk of Virtual Renderings.
Full text of the poem can be accessed here:
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